If you’ve been wondering if Dad really does need a new wallet this Father’s Day — maybe an RFID-blocking wallet to protect his credit card data? — you can probably relax. Sellers of anti-RFID wallets are making a mint on wallets and credit card sleeves that protect personal information embedded on credit cards from high-tech thieves. The new technology sounds like a smart way to protect your personal data.
But are the credit cards in Dad’s wallet at risk? Probably not.
RFID cards vs. chip cards
Some modern credit cards, driver’s licenses and passports are embedded with RFID (radio-frequency identification technology) that sends a signal containing your personal data to terminals at the checkout register. Terminals can read the RFID tag from up to several feet away, and the tag doesn’t need to be in line of sight to be picked up.
The neat thing about RFID cards is that you don’t have to physically swipe the card in order to make a purchase. It’s a great idea — but it’s probably not the technology used by your credit cards. The chip you see on your card is probably an EMV chip, for the payment system recently adopted in the United States that requires you to insert your card into the reader rather than swiping it.
Most U.S. credit card companies sent updated chip cards to cardholders within the last year, so you’ll probably recognize the shiny golden EMV chip on your card. An RFID-enabled card, on the other hand, will bear the contactless payment logo and will come from a company that markets the card as able to be used wirelessly, under names like PayPass, Blink, PayWave and Express Pay.
What Dad might appreciate more than an RFID-blocking wallet to protect RFID cards he probably doesn’t have is help setting up a digital wallet. Digital wallet technology lets you store your credit card information securely on your mobile device — your phone or even some smartwatches — to use for payment.
When you’re at a store that supports digital wallet payments, take out your phone, tap it to a payment terminal, and use a fingerprint or Personal Identification Number (PIN) to authorize the payment. Your phone communicates wirelessly with the payment terminal using near field communication (NFC), which requires it to nearly touch the terminal to activate. This close proximity, combined with your authorization of the transaction, prevents the unintentional swipe from generating an accidental payment.
All of PenFed’s credit cards are equipped with modern EMV smart chips, not RFID technology. PenFed supports digital wallet payments via Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay. Learn more about how digital wallet services work, and you’ll discover they’re a convenient way to pay at the checkout.
Safe and secure at PenFed
Another smart, proven way to protect your credit cards is Card Security Text Alerts, an alert system that lets you know when suspicious activity is detected on your PenFed credit and debit card accounts.
PenFed hopes your Father’s Day remains as safe and secure as Dad’s credit cards — whether you buy him a new wallet this year or not. Happy Father’s Day!